A reader writes in and asks: “What is the secret to lasting sobriety?”
I know there are old timers out there in the program who would say that I’m not qualified to answer this, as I’ve only got 8 years of sobriety. Those with 30 years and over probably turn up their noses at such a meager achievement, right?
But length of sobriety is relative, just like everything else. When I had two weeks clean I though making it to 2 years sober would be a miracle of sorts. The thought of 8 years sober was a far off dream, something that was impossible to envision.
And so it is with every newcomer. Achieving long periods of sobriety seems like an insurmountable challenge. We all have to live one day at a time, of course.
And yet, so many in recovery who attempt to live “a day at a time” ultimately end up relapsing. Only a select few manage to find lasting sobriety. What is the secret?
If you know me by now then you know that my answer is “creation.” But I want to go further than that and explain why creation is the answer:
1) Creation is sustainable – Can your recovery strategy last for 10 years or more? Can you see yourself doing it over and over again for decades upon decades? The creative theory is flexible enough to provide anyone with a unique path of growth. If you get bored with it then that is your own fault.
2) Creation yields purpose – Those who are staying sober by traditional recovery programs might find real purpose and meaning in their life, but only if they intentionally seek it out and actively create it. When you start living the creative theory you will naturally start living with real purpose because you’ll be taking deliberate action instead of just drifting through recovery. You’ll make decisions about what you want to create in your life and this will give it more meaning.
3) Creation overcomes complacency – Why do people relapse after staying sober for multiple years? Complacency. That is the only thing that can erode a successful recovery in the long run. If you get lazy then you risk sliding back into your old habits. The only “cure” for complacency is to constantly push yourself to keep growing and learning. This is the creative theory in action. The whole idea is to keep creating, which of course takes deliberate action on your part.
Now if you can find these advantage by working other programs of recovery then by all means you should do so. I know of at least one person working the traditional 12 step program who definitely does it with passion and purpose, and has been doing it for almost 10 years now. Obviously he has found a sustainable path (for him) that gives his life purpose and stimulates him to keep growing. If you can achieve those things then keep doing what you’ve been doing. If you’re not quite there yet then try changing things up and challenge yourself to find the path that makes you grow.